Highlights and tour details
The High Salt Road is a spectacular gravel road on the Maritime Alps, which winds between 1800 and 2100 metres of altitude, along the main Alpine watershed at the Italian-French border.
The track is an essential element in the wider project of the Cycling routes in the Mediterranean Alps which involve the regions of Piedmont, Liguria and PACA.
The route starts from the eighth and nineteenth century Forts of Colle di Tenda and stretches for about 30 km along a former military dirt road built partly by digging into the rocky slopes and partly by building imposing dry walls which are anchored to the slopes. Along the track you encounter continuous ascents and descents, the spectacular and exposed bends carved into the rock, also called Zabriskie Point, the Carsene Region with flat emerging rocks and rough grazing pastures, to reach the Don Barbera mountain hut at the foot of the Marguareis.
From here you access the extensive and dense forest of tall conifers of Bosco delle Navette and after approximately 1.5 km a forest track descends into the pine forest connecting with the road for Upega. Instead, those who continue on the Salt Road must take the descent towards Monesi di Triora when they reach Passo del Tanarello.
Period and opening times for 2022
From 18 June to 18 September 2022, 8 am to 8 pm
From 19 September to 16 October 2022, from 8 am to 6 pm
The High Salt Road is freely accessible on foot, while there is a charge of €1 for bicycles from Limone Piemonte.
For the transit of motor vehicles, there is a maximum daily limit of:
• 140 motorcycles – €15
• 80 cars and quads – €20
Motor vehicles cannot circulate on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Multilingual information site, with booking platform: www.altaviadelsale.com.
The High Salt Road is already organised as a tourist itinerary. At the departure point from Limone Piemonte there is the Chalet “Le Marmotte”, while along the track there is the “Don Barbera” mountain hut. There are other mountain huts in the Ligurian part for cycle tourists who use the High Salt Road to reach the sea.
There are tour operators who offer 4x4 tours and cycle touring guides. There are MTB and e-bike hire services nearby.
The Cuneo Bike Experience product club is a network of companies and cycle tour guides that provide services to users of the High Salt Road.
The Conitours tour operator consortium offers packages of one or more days, which can be viewed on the websites www.altaviadelsale.com, www.cuneoalps.it and www.visitcuneese.it.
The Italian Municipalities of Limone Piemonte and Briga Alta, together with the French Municipalities of Tende and La Brigue, are the Territorial Bodies in charge of the track of the High Salt Road.
The promoting body is the ATL local tourist board of Cuneo Alpine Valleys and Cities of Art. The track is recognised by the Piedmont Region as a historic mountain road of tourist interest.
Points of interest
High altitude fortifications and bunkers, works to support the road track and other military routes that converge onto the track.
The Salt Road winds along the former military road which, between 1700 and the Second World War, connected the forts of the Alpine defence system on the border between Italy and France.
In this section of land there are many military structures which are no longer in operation. The same interventions by the then Military Engineering can be admired in the masonry works realised to support the road track. Given the historic importance of the place, all the evidence has been the object of study and scientific publications.
The road has been recovered in recent years and made useable for tourist purposes for bicycles and motor vehicles.
• Martino Pier Giorgio, La via del sale: dal Colle di Tenda al mare attraverso le strade ex-militari, BBEuropa, Cuneo, 2021
• Martino Pier Giorgio, I Forti del Colle di Tenda, BBEuropa, Cuneo, 2015
• Bagnaschino Davide, Corino Pier Giorgio, Alta Roja fortificata, Dal campo trincerato del Tenda sino alle opere in caverna del Vallo Alpino. Associazione per gli studi di storia e architettura militare. Melli Borgone, 2001.
• Banaudo, José. Une randonnée en Haute- Roya, les forts du Col de Tende. Le Haut Pays, journal de la Roya Bevera, n° 8, 1986.
• Corino Pier Giorgio, L’opera in caverna del Vallo Alpino, Associazione per gli studi di storia e architettura militare. Edizioni Melli
• Corino Pier Giorgio, Materiale da fortificazione del Vallo. Dans: Pietra e Acciaio, Edizioni Melli – Borgone, 1999.
• Gariglio Dario, Minola Mauro. Le fortezze delle Alpi occidentali [Les forteresses des Alpes occidentales]. T. 2: dal Monginevro al mare Cuneo: L’Arcière, 1995.
• Raybaud Claude, Fortifications de l’époque moderne dans les Alpes-Maritimes, Éditions Serre (collection L’Ancre solaire), Nice, 1992.
• Raybaud Claude, Fortifications françaises et italiennes dans les Alpes-Maritimes, Éditions Serre (collection Equilibres), Nice, 2002.
• Raybaud Claude, Kermarrec Alain, Babault Jean-Claude, Les blockhaus de la Haute Roya, Editions du Losange, Nice, 2011.
• Robotti Massimo, Il grande forte del colle di Tenda, Mauro Fantino Editore, Borgo San Dalmazzo, 2012.
For an overall picture of the Alpine defence system, view the bibliography by Sconfienza Roberto: